In a week in which Stawell received an overdue deluge, Nathan Baker emulated Peter Barham’s drought breaking-win of the previous week in posting his first cross-country win since 2014 in the five kilometre Axis Employment Handicap last Saturday.
Like Barham, whose appearances with the Stawell Amateur Athletic Club have been spasmodic over the past few years, Baker has been hampered by injury which has limited his number of starts to just twenty-five from a possible ninety since his last taste of success in June of 2014.
“I had a bulging disc in my lower back which really troubled me for about eighteen months and even now I do stretching exercises every morning and night to manage the problem as best I can,” he said.
Having conceded more than eleven minutes start to the front-markers, Baker jostled with fellow back-markers Gary Howden, Bal Sukhpreet and Col Barnett as they threaded their way through a packed field.
Placegetters Rebecca Hurley and Naomi Hunter had fought for supremacy for most of the race, but Baker snatched the lead from them with just 250 metres to run and dashed clear to setup a 0.17 minute winning margin. The rest of the chasers all finished within five minutes of the winner.
Baker, a consistent and mentally-focused runner, trains from 6am most mornings around the streets of Stawell and in the Ironbarks, and plays midweek tennis.
He has no lofty ambitions to run marathons or endurance but is keen to break 40 minutes for 10 kilometres during his time with the club.
“Other than that I’m just happy to share the activity and space with my son Jerome, who runs with the sub-juniors, and my wife Angela.”
In the one kilometre Sub-Juniors race, a happy Henry Dunn scored a rarely-seen week-to-week win over the determined dead-heaters Colten Kenny and Barney Baker
The club returns to the Ironbarks for the five kilometre Kieran Ryan Handicap this Saturday. Fun runners are invited to meet at the North Park Clubrooms from 9.30am.